Northern Ireland

Owen Paterson to collect after epic Mongolian journey

Owen Paterson
Image caption Owen Paterson celebrates completing the 1,000 kilometre journey

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson is to make a new financial demand of the chancellor of the exchequer - £100 sponsorship for a 1,000 kilometre horse ride across Mongolia.

Mr Paterson, 54, and his wife Rose, rode 14 hours each day on the charity trek across the Mongolian wilderness.

The Patersons were the oldest of 23 participants who journeyed to Asia, to retrace the pony express communication trail, first set out during the reign of Mongol emperor Genghis Khan, more than 800 years ago.

Among the other politicians who will have to pay up after their epic journey will be Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, while the Royal Irish Regiment's Benevolent Fund will be one of the beneficiaries.

Among the other good causes to benefit will be the Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries.

Only 10 of those who took part completed the journey, which featured temperatures fluctuating from freezing to 35C.

The North Shrophire MP said it was the hardest thing he had ever done.

"One poor guy we were riding with from Hong Kong lost both his thumbs, one guy broke his wrist, we had people with cracked ribs and others had to drop out with severe dehydration," he said.

"The horses over there are not fully broken in and live a sort of herd life. The locals had to catch them every morning with a large loop on a pole.

Image caption Mr Paterson's wife Rose also took part in the trek

"So it was very mentally tiring, you had to concentrate the whole time, you couldn't drift off, because you knew the horse could bolt at any time."

He said the journey would change his attitude to life.

"A lot of people think they have difficulties, well my goodness they should see the difficulties people have to face out here."

Mr Paterson added he was looking forward to collecting the money owed to him by Chancellor George Osborne.

"Good businessman that he is, the chancellor promised me a cheque, but only on completion," he said.